Mt. Herman
Floating in the Dead Sea
Haifa
Sea of Galilee
Masada and the Dead Sea
Jezreel Valley from Tel (mound) of Megiddo
Mt. Herman
Nazareth
Golan Heights bunker looking into Syria
Qumran National Park, Dead Sea Scrolls location
Touring around Israel was like being the only tourist in the entire country. Although we saw bus loads of tourists on the highway, we never seemed to see any at the sights. We booked a tour that normally has about a bus load of people. Nobody booked for the 10 days we were going so we were given a personal driver and guide for all 10 days. This made us extremely flexible as we were able to go our speed and see any additional sights we liked. I would only recommend visiting Israel for those who are fans of the Bible or believers in Jesus Christ. In general, the Israeli people were the most unfriendly people I’ve ever met in all my travels. One must cut them some slack though…how would you be if all your close neighboring countries wanted to kill you.

Israel

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About 6 miles south of Jerusalem is Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The city is inside the West Bank, Palestinian Territories so we only viewed it from a distance.

City of Bethlehem

East of Jerusalem, dropping 4,000 feet in elevation is the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth. Along the road are several locations you can go for a swim in the Dead Sea, and then take a shower after. I was pressured into it and yes…yippee I floated.

Dead Sea

Qumran National Park

Masada National Park

On the north-western shore of the Dead Sea is Qumran National Park, the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. These were discovered in 1947 by some Bedouin kids. The park is worth a stop, you can look at the caves that were excavated in the early 50’s but you really can’t go in most of them.
Further south along the Dead Sea is Masada National Park. This spectacular fortress built by Herod is accessed by a 1,500 foot gondola ride up to the ruins on top of a mesa. Many rooms perch the side of cliffs with amazing baths and pools that few hotels today could compare with. This is a fortress later over taken by Jewish Zealots who all 960 committed suicide instead of being overtaken by the Romans. On one side of the mesa is the massive earth ramp built by the Romans to access the mountain top. It was an amazing sight.
North of the Dead Sea is the area of the Jordan River believed to be where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. There is a huge baptism facility there along the river where thousands come to be baptized during events.

Jordan River

We passed right by Jericho, 10 miles north of the Dead Sea. Jericho is the oldest walled city in the world and believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Jericho is also the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth. We did not enter because Jericho is in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories.

City of Jericho

This is the largest of 3 springs that form the Jordan River at the base of Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel. It’s amazing that all of Israel and the Palestinian territories get their water from this one source, the Jordan River. We had some excitement in the early morning hours as we came across wild pigs. Our guide became very excited as he had never seen any during all his tours over the years. He was actually concerned for our safety…I thought he was kidding.

Tel Dan Nature Reserve

Lots of biblical stories about the Sea of Galilee. I tried walking on water but I sank like Peter. The sea gets its water from the Jordan River, and then lets it out as the Jordan River continues to the Dead Sea. The lake is 700 feet below sea level but still beautiful.

Caesarea Philippi

At the base of Mt. Hermon, not much there but ruins and stories from the past.

Golan Heights

We visited the bunkers facing Syria from the Six-Day War of 1967.

Sea of Galilee

On the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, the ruins of Capernaum weren’t that interesting, but between 150 BC to AD 750 the town was probably a great place to visit. Discussed in the New Testament, this is where Jesus performed many miracles and many of his apostles like Peter, James, John and Andrew lived.

Capernaum

Near Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is the location believed to be the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. A catholic church is on the top of the hill while a 4th century Byzantine church is down near the shore.

Mount of Beatitudes

The boyhood home of Jesus halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean. There were several exhibits where live people re-enact what life would have been like at the time. Nazareth is the largest city in northeast Israel, the majority of which are Israel’s Arab citizens.

City of Nazareth

Jezreel (Armageddon) Valley

A drive through the most important valley in history was a must see, the “Crossroads of the East”. In the 20’s the valley was a swamp but now it is the bread basket of Israel.
In the Jezreel Valley is Tel Megiddo, the highest mound and sight of 26 excavated cities! Because of its strategic location at the crossroads of several major routes, Megiddo has seen many battles and was inhabited from around 7000 BC to 586 BC.

Tel Megiddo National Park

South of Haifa is Caesarea, with ruins right on the Mediterranean coast. Built by Herod, named for Caesar, this Roman City had broad steps right from the pier to the temple site.

City of Haifa

Israel’s largest harbor and third-largest city, Haifa is built on the slopes of Mt. Carmel giving some amazing views from high on the mountain side.

Caesarea National Park

Click here to see the Jerusalem sights we visited
Tel Aviv is the second largest city, built this century just south of the biblical city of Jaffa (Joppa). Unlike the rest of Israel, Tel Aviv is a modern city with all kinds of shopping, nightclubs, markets and architectural buildings. Tel Aviv is also located on six miles of nice Mediterranean beach allowing city folk to walk from the city skyscrapers to the beach. If you like vacations with fun amenities and activities, you should set up base camp here, renting a car to see the country’s historical sights.

City of Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Tel Dan Nature Reserve
The Roman ramp up to Masada
View of Galilee from our hotel
Jordan River baptism site
Caesarea National Park
Caesarea National Park
Haifa, looking north
Tel Megiddo underground escape route
Mount of Beatitudes hill top church courtyard
beach in Eilat, the Red Sea
We walked into Eilat Israel from Jordan after our visit there
On the beach in Eilat, the Red Sea
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Haifa Isreal Golan Heights bunker looking into Syria Nazareth Qumran National Park, Dead Sea Scrolls location Sea of Galilee Masada and the Dead Sea View of Galilee Mount of Beatitudes hill top church Caesarea National Park Jezreel Valley from Tel (mound) of Megiddo
Jordan River baptism site Roman ramp up to Masada Floating in the Dead Sea Caesarea National Park Haifa, looking north Eilat Israel Tel Megiddo underground Tel Dan Nature Reserve
Our Masada Pictures